08 October 2005

Chiricahua National Monument

Well, Bill and I have decided that if we ever want to move to SE Arizona, we probably won’t live in Benson. The park we are in currently still doesn’t have the wireless internet up, it hasn’t worked since we got here and the only other connection they have is ONE 28k dial-up. One, for several hundred RV spaces, they have one dial-up…fabulous! We’ve been trying to take it easy and just relax, spending some time at the pool and in the hot tub. Wednesday the 5th we went to visit the Amerind museum, but it wasn’t what either of us thought it would be so we weren’t there for long. From there we drove out to Cochise Stronghold, but that also wasn’t what we thought it would be. Basically it’s just a campground with a sign, but no real information about the importance the place played in history…o-well. So we drove up, took a couple pictures and decided to head out the Chiricahua National Monument. This is a really cool place. Like many of the other places we’ve been, it was formed by a huge volcanic eruption millions of years ago 1000+ times bigger than Mt St Helens. The volcanic ash settled and has since been weathered out to the formations that exist today. We decided to go on one of the hikes that were marked moderate on the map to see the Big Balanced Rock. Apparently my idea of a moderate hike and the National Parks Service idea of a moderate hike are not at all the same! This 6mile round trip hike was 1.5miles straight down, then 1.5 miles straight back up, then you have to turn around and come back. Oh, by the way, the trails are not improved…meaning that they are all loose gravel and tree roots. Not to mention that these trails are not well traveled, they are a lot like backwoods trails. We are very lucky that the only rattlesnake we came across was on the drive in and it was sunbathing in the middle of the road. We were in the truck, so he had to move for us. I thought I was going to die on that 6-mile hike from hell. I don’t consider myself in the best shape of my life, but I’m not horribly out of shape either and that hike just about killed me, not to mention that my calved and joints still hurt and today is Saturday! Holy Crap! Other than seriously considering throwing myself off some of cliffs we walked by, it was a beautiful hike, gorgeous scenery. It was really incredible to walk the 3 miles to the Big Balanced Rock and see SO many different surroundings. Everything from pine trees to small woodsy flowers to cactus, if you didn’t like the flora and fauna…walk another mile and you’d be in something completely different…amazing! We did have a couple of things to worry about. One, the clouds started rolling in and we kept hearing thunder. Flash floods are not uncommon in the area, and we were heading downhill. Two, we got to the bottom and realized that we were going to have to pick up the pace to make sure we didn’t get stuck out there with no sunlight. Being out there in the dark would be very bad when you aren’t expecting it. Although, being there that late in the day did reward us with some amazing sunset picture opportunities. We were standing back up at the trailhead, after having hiked for 6miles, both of us sweaty with sore joints and muscles…and Bill took some awesome pics of the sun going down over the landscape. They refer to a lot of the mountains in the area as Mountain Islands, and they really do look like islands when the sun is setting. The grasslands taking on the colors of the sunset really make the mountains stand out like islands, it's incredible! A few minutes later Bill had about 5 mosquitoes land on him all at once and start sucking him dry. They were so big that when he swatted at them they splatted blood, so it was time to go. Bill doesn’t like being a buffet for mosquitoes and I can’t blame him.

That’s where we are at so far. Today we went to Cars in the Park, but I haven’t looked through the pics yet. Other than that, we’ve been hangin at the pool and trying to deal with having crappy internet and crappy cable, it will be good to leave when we get out of here, and if we come back…it probably won’t be to Benson.